The Belgian Malinois, named for the Belgian city of Malines, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Sheepdog. In most parts of the world the four varieties: the Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black marks and overlay, pronounced Mal-in-wah), Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, shades of gray are acceptable in some registries, long coat with black mask and overlay, pronounced Terv-yer-en) the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat, pronounced Lak-in-wah), and the Groenendael (black, long coat, pronounced Grow-en-en-doll), are all considered one breed. This versatile and highly intelligent dog excels at many activities including tracking, agility, obedience, protection and schutzhund, narcotics and bomb detection work, search and rescue, herding and pulling sleds or carts. Although the Belgian Malinois is not for everyone, this high energy dog makes an excellent family companion if properly socialized and trained. The first of the Belgian Sheepdogs to establish type, the Malinois became the gauge of his nearly indiscernible brothers, who were labeled Berger Belge a poil court autre que Malinois (that is, Belgian short-coated Sheepdog other that Malinois). Presently, the Malinois is hardly the single revelation of that country's herders. All the Belgian Sheepdogs developed from hardy working dogs, which ensures that the modern breeds are compatibly gifted on the field. Today the Belgian Groenendael, Laekenois and Tervuren are most often used as companion dogs while the Malinois are used as working dogs.
The standard for the Belgian Malinois frequently uses the word "square" to describe the breed, as the dog's body is about as long as it is tall. The elegant Malinois is a muscular dog but not heavy, solid but very agile, with a proud carriage. The topline is level with a slight slope at the withers. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The hindquarters are muscular, without looking heavy. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round cat-feet. Dewclaws may be removed from the front legs and should be removed from the back legs. The long tail reaches at least to the hock. The short-haired coat is fawn to red to mahogany, to black with black tips, mask, and ears and a thick undercoat. Some white is allowed on the chest and feet. The hair around the neck is a bit longer and forms a collar. The small, dark, almond-shaped eyes have an alert and questioning expression. The alert erect ears should be equilateral triangles. They should be in good proportion to the dog's head. The muzzle tapers, but is not excessively pointy. The skull is flat and parallel to the plain of the muzzle. The nose is black and the lips should be tight. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite.
The Belgian Malinois is one of four Belgian Sheepdogs. It is a very smart and obedient dog. Serious and watchful with strong protective and territorial instincts. Some are very shy or sensitive. This breed needs extensive socialization from an early age, and firm, but not harsh, training from an experienced master. If you are harsh or overbearing they will become uncooperative. It is instinctively protective so it should be trained and socialized very well from an early age. Breeders should socialize puppies right from birth. Good for working and competition obedience. These dogs make excellent police and guard dogs. This type of work is currently their main occupation. They do however, make excellent pets. They are ever-watchful, alert and loyal, and they thrive on loving companionship. Belgian Sheepdogs are good with children if socialized well with them. The Belgian Malinois needs to be part of the family and not locked up in a kennel. It does best given ample time, attention, training and companionship. If this breed is ignored, it will find ways to entertain itself, often at the owner's expense. The Belgian Malinois has a lot of energy and needs a job to do. Working lines can have particularly high drive. Belgian Sheepdogs tend to bond strongly with one or two people. Take care when introducing this dog with small non-canine pets. Generally this Sheepdog gets along well with children, but they can be rather dominant toward other dogs. Provided they are correctly socialized with cats and other pets, they should not present any problems. Belgian Sheepdogs may instinctively display herding behavior such as chasing and circling, moving effortlessly for hours and nipping at people's heels. Good for working and competitive obedience. This is a very demanding dog. It needs an experienced owner and can easily be difficult to control unless the owner knows how to handle him. There can be wide differences in temperament and aggressiveness. Talk to someone experienced with the breed before you buy your dog. Although Belgian Sheepdogs are often impressive, don't base your purchase solely on achievement records and appearances. Animals displaying excessive aggression or fearfulness should be avoided.
This hardy, healthy breed has no major health concerns. Some minor concerns that have been seen are skin allergies, eye problems, excessive shyness, excessive aggressiveness and occasionally seen hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.
The Belgian Malinois will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. This breed prefers cool climates, but adapts well to others. It can live outdoors but would much rather be with his people.
This is a working dog that is accustomed to an active outdoor life. As such it needs a lot of exercise, preferably off the leash as much as possible in a safe area.
About 12-14 years
Average 6 - 10 puppies
The smooth, short-haired coat of the Malinois is easy to groom. Brush regularly with a firm bristle brush and bathe only if it is absolutely necessary, as bathing removes the waterproofing of the coat. This breed is a light constant shedder, but sheds heavily twice a year.